Gerard Pique retired in November but has been busy after setting up the ‘Kings League’, a completely mental but seven-man competition.
Pique and Llanos have teamed up again for another wild creation, although this time it at least involves football.
Sunday January 1 marked the launch of the new league, which has a total of 12 teams that have a roster of 12 available.
The top 10 players were selected in an NFL-style draft that was streamed live on Twitch, while the remaining two spots go to former or current professionals.
Already former Manchester United and Real Madrid striker Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez, who still plays for LA Galaxy, has been implicated, as has World Cup winner Joan Capdevila.
Former Red Bull Salzburg striker Jonathan Soriano has also played, but one of the most interesting members of the league is ‘Enigma’, a masked and completely concealed player.
Wearing the No.69 shirt, it is claimed that the player is currently playing in La Liga and is wearing the disguise as he was not cleared to play.
La Liga chief Javier Tebas wasn’t a big fan of the idea, saying: “I can’t imagine doing the Enigma thing in La Liga. It’s a circus. It’s not about attract a young audience or not. I read that they compare and they are wrong.”
Gerard Pique runs a 7-a-side league in Spain called @kingsleague. Teams have presidents like Aguero and Casillas. This week, a current LaLiga player who was not cleared by his club and agent to participate played with a mask and under the name Enigma to hide his identity. pic.twitter.com/HWmvAPkHTi
— David Kappel (@kappilinho) January 11, 2023
Both Iker Casillas and Sergio Aguero are team presidents in the league, which takes place in a warehouse in Barcelona and has a unique set of rules.
Matches are held every Sunday and consist of two twenty-minute halves and the teams play each other twice. It also seems very normal, but you should also know that kickoffs are straight out of water polo and players charge from their goal line when the whistle blows.
Subs are unlimited and there are bins for yellow and red cards. VAR is used but only when requested and teams only get one assessment per game – with a successful appeal meaning they can appeal it again.
Penalties – which occur in the event of a draw – are hockey-style, with players starting from the halfway line and having a one-on-one chance with the goalkeeper but having to score within five seconds.
Fans have the power to vote on the rules and there are “Golden Cards” which vary from an instant penalty, stealing a card, removing an opposing player for two minutes, a goal in the next minute counts double and the card classic joker.
Hernandez’s foray into the world is expected to be brief given he’s returning to MLS, but he’s thoroughly enjoyed the experience.
“Some people think [projects like these] are recreational, but it’s so much more than that, it’s a great opportunity for everyone involved,” he told ESPN.
“The level really surprised me, although what didn’t surprise me was the intensity and the desire with which everyone played. I didn’t want to come from Los Angeles just to kill the time. I wanted to play, win, score.”
Viewing figures were strong, with a peak of 800,000 viewers watching the first online dating series. A “Queens League” will follow in May.